Wildfires have become increasingly common in North America due to the combination of human activities and natural causes. It is important to understand that both play a role in the severity of wildfires, and understanding who is to blame can help to prevent future destruction.
With that being said, let’s take a closer look at the facts of who is to blame for the wildfires and debunk eleven commonly accepted beliefs about the role of nature versus man-made causes:
Wildfires are always caused by humans
While human activities such as arson and carelessness with campfires are responsible for many fires, natural causes such as lightning strikes and drought can also spark wildfires.
Climate change has no influence on the frequency and intensity of wildfires
A changing climate can create dry conditions, making a fire easier to start and spread.
Wildfires only occur in forested areas
Wildfires can also occur in grasslands, deserts, and even cities.
Wildfires can’t be stopped once they start
Firefighters use a variety of techniques to contain and extinguish a fire, including backfires, bulldozing fire lines, and aerial water bombing.
Wildfires are mostly caused by arson
Arson is responsible for an estimated 10-15 percent of wildfires in the U.S., with most of the remainder caused by either natural causes or human activity.
Fire suppression is always bad
While too much fire suppression can lead to an unnatural build-up of fuel and more intense fires, it is sometimes necessary to protect communities from destruction.
Wildfires are always destructive
In many ecosystems, fire is a natural part of the cycle and can actually be beneficial by clearing out dead and decaying material, promoting new growth, and providing nutrients to the soil.
All wildfires can be prevented
According to the National Interagency Fire Center, humans can prevent most (but not all) wildfires by taking precautions such as properly using outdoor equipment and practicing fire-safe activities, such as target shooting. By safely burning debris, maintaining vehicles, and always being mindful of fire safety when camping or near wildfire-prone areas, humans can do their part to prevent wildfires. It is ultimately up to nature to decide its role, but mankind can play a significant part in wildfire prevention efforts.
Wildfires can only be fought from the ground
Firefighters also use aerial water bombing, chemical retardants, and smoke jumpers to fight wildfires.
Wildfires destroy all wildlife
While some animals are killed in a wildfire, others are able to survive. Tiny creatures conceal themselves by taking cover in logs, under rocks, or burrowing into the dirt.
Wildfires only occur in the summer
Wildfires can occur year-round but are more common in the summer due to hotter temperatures and drier conditions.
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